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2017 Chipper Program October 23-26++

posted Sep 30, 2017, 11:19 AM by Joe Christy   [ updated Sep 30, 2017, 11:25 AM ]

Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of a Bonny Doon resident and the collaboration of the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County and the Monterey Bay Air Resources District we are offering free brush chipping fall 2017.
The 2017 Chipper Program is a FREE fuel reduction service to reduce your community’s wildfire threat.  This program assists residents of Bonny Doon in complying with State and County defensible space regulations by providing chipping services to residents who clear vegetative fuels from their property.
BDFSC has contracted with Rohrbough Tree Service to chip vegetation removed in the creation and maintenance of defensible space at no cost to you. 
After considering the responses to last month’s announcement, we have decided to make the program open to individual landowners and less restrictive (see application).

Here’s what you need to DO:
1) Let us know that you will have piles to be chipped - print, read, complete both sides, and mail this application to 150 McGivern Way SC CA 95060 or email to:
2) Clear vegetation from 100’ around your house and along access roads to your house – for more info on Defensible Space see: http://www.scottsvalleyfire.com/Other_PDF/Living_with_fire_2009.pdf
3) Bring the cleared brush to the road before October 16th – see Do’s and Don’ts for creating your piles in the application.
4) Celebrate contributing to your home and community’s fire safety!

Neighborhood Chipping in September

posted Aug 29, 2017, 4:15 PM by Joe Christy

Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of a Bonny Doon resident and the collaboration of the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County and the Monterey Bay Air Resources District we will be able to offer a free brush chipping program this September.
We anticipate sufficient funding for only four to five days of chipping, so we are interested in hearing from neighborhood groups and will be forced to prioritize neighborhoods according to need, impact on both securing shared roads and on defensible space, number of residents involved, along with other factors. To participate your neighborhood will have to organize and carry out the actual clearing of fuels and moving the slash to one or two central locations readily accessible by road. If your neighborhood would like to participate, please contact us, after August 28, via email to board@bdfsc.org or call 831-824-4155. If you call and don’t get a human, please leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as we are able.

September and October Are Peak Fire Season

posted Aug 29, 2017, 4:11 PM by Joe Christy

Though historically Santa Cruz County has suffered wildland fires in every month of the year, the danger peaks as the dry season draws to a close over the next two months. Fuel moisture reaches its annual low point and last year’s rains have left us with an unusual amount of fast, flashy fuels. Moreover, virtually all wildland fires here are caused by humans so our care is the critical factor.

For our entire community’s sake, please be especially careful this year. Whether your neighborhood decides to take part in our chipping program or you and your neighbors are simply independently working on your own properties, or even if you are simply barbequing outside, be extra sensitive to sparks and how hot/dry/windy it is at the time. If you must use powered metal tools, do so in the cool of the day, before 10am, and have a ready source of water at hand. Many weed whackers can now be fitted with heavy duty string or nylon bladed cutting heads which are vastly less likely to cause sparks.

The Coming Fire Season

posted Jun 24, 2017, 1:21 PM by Joe Christy

There are two canonical answers to the question what will the upcoming fire season be like, either ask me again in December or the worst ever. In the 1970’s fire season in California averaged 78 days; according to A. Leroy Westerling of UC Merced and his collaborators, it is now more than twice as long. As we saw in 2014-2016, some years fire season doesn’t end at all. The sobering statistics of the last 25 years show that on a California, US, or global scale, on average fire seasons are growing exponentially longer and fiercer. As on June 24, 2017, when I am writing this, CAL FIRE has recorded 107 wildland fires in the State Responsibility Area; for the prior 5 years, the corresponding numbers are: 2016 – 48, 2015 – 37, 2014 – 48, 2013 – 58, and 2012 – 38.
At the top of our mountain today, the standard fuel moisture, a measure of the relative weight of wildland fuels to their dry weight, is hovering around 7%, which is the level that it was when the 2009 Lockheed Fire began. The observed fuel moisture of both live chamise at Saratoga Summit and of live manzantita in Corralitos are about average for late June, but dropping rapidly.

Yet One More Spark, Yet One More Disastrous Wildfire

posted Jun 24, 2017, 1:18 PM by Joe Christy

In Utah, the Brian Head Fire started June 17 and by June 24 had grown to 38,000 acres and destroyed 13 homes. It is known to have been caused by human activity, as are nearly all wildfires in California. It is believed to have been started by a homeowner wielding a weed whacker.
Please be fire aware when maintaining your defensible space. Remember that the temperature at ground level typically 20° to 40° hotter than the air. Think twice or more about using metal-bladed tools, and finish your work by 10am, when the grass will be as dry as the air.

CAL FIRE’s Wildfire app

posted Jun 24, 2017, 1:16 PM by Joe Christy

Early in June, CAL FIRE released their Ready for Wildfire app for mobile phones to both the Apple App Store and Google Play. While the app is full of useful hints & checklists of simple steps to prepare yourself and your home for wildfire, its must-have feature is the ability to sign up for text alerts for wildfire in Santa Cruz County, where you are currently located, any other county, or even the whole state. Stay wildfire aware!

Tick tick tick tick - Preparing for Wildfire on 60 Minutes

posted Jun 8, 2017, 4:28 PM by Joe Christy

Recently 60 minutes aired a segment on Why fighting wildfires often fails -- and what to do about it, featuring one of my heros, Jack Cohen, whose research on how homes burn in wildfires led him to develop the concept of the Home Ignition Zone [HIZ]. Check out the video or read the transcript at: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-fighting-wildfires-often-fails-and-what-to-do-about-it/. Please contact us if you'd like to take advantage of our free HIZ Assessment.

The Trouble with Humans

posted Mar 24, 2017, 2:53 PM by Joe Christy

It’s a maxim amongst wildland firefighters that the three most important causes of wildland fire are men, women, and children (though obviously not in that order). The new era of big data analysis and the vast accumulated US weather data sets from the last century and a half are now bearing out the factual truth of that maxim. Two recent studies published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences expose two facts.
The first study, Human-caused climate change is now a key driver of forest fire activity in the western United States, looked at fuel aridity, which is in a sense the flipside of our old friend fuel moisture, and which has an obvious correlation with fire severity. Scientists from Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory, University of Idaho, and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies have been able to parse out, first in California, then across the West, the impact of human caused climate change from the statistically normal oscillations in weather, e.g. El Nino. They found that while the maximal severity of California’s annual summer drought is not increasing, the frequency of extreme droughts is, and that increased frequency is primarily due to the component of warming of the earth’s atmosphere correlated with increase of greenhouse gasses. Across the west, they found that “human-caused climate change caused over half of the documented increases in fuel aridity since the 1970s and doubled the cumulative forest fire area since 1984”.
In the second, Human-started wildfires expand the fire niche across the United States, using the government wildfire data for the entire US, scientists from the Universities of Colorado, Massachusetts, and Idaho, found that “human-started wildfires accounted for 84% of all wildfires, tripled the length of the fire season, dominated an area seven times greater than that affected by lightning fires, and were responsible for nearly half of all area burned.” In our eco-region of California, 97% of wildfires are being caused by humans, who have doubled the length of fire season (though in 2014-2015 we saw one year’s fire season merge into a second), and are responsible for 89% of the area burned!
In other words, humans are both making our environment more susceptible to large, severe wildfires, and supplying the sparks that start those fires. Our mission is all the more important.

How Can We Help Your Neighborhood?

posted Jan 30, 2017, 12:12 PM by Joe Christy

This winter and spring we're reaching out specifically to neighborhoods in Bonny Doon about improving our readiness for the next wildfire here on the mountain. Among the areas where we can help your neighborhood:
1. Evacuation planning: the six P’s - what to be ready to take with you, identifying neighbors who might need assistance in an evacuation, alternate routes, communication, etc.
2. Addressing clearance issues that emergency vehicles face accessing properties in your neighborhood.
3. Organizing work days to secure common roads and provide defensible space around individual homes. This could include chipping, for a nominal donation, of slash deposited at designated places along common roads.
4. Improving signage: house numbers, water sources, turn-arounds, and pull-offs on one lane roads.
5. Discussing what projects you and your neighbors think would help to improve wildfire preparation in your own neighborhood.
Please contact us as at left if the Fire Safe Council might be of help with these or any other wildfire-related issues in your neighborhood.

Amah Mutsun Land Trust newsletter sign-up

posted Dec 21, 2016, 3:50 PM by Joe Christy

As Rick Flores mentioned in his presentation at the annual meeting, the Amah Mutsun Land Trust has an email newsletter. You can sign up for it at: https://vr2.verticalresponse.com/s/amltmailinglist.

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